2016 Super League Predictionsby Leana Kell
The Super League is due to start on 4 February, and to help prepare rugby fans for the oncoming tournament we've put together a short preview. Take a look below for information on the teams taking part, and who we think can make it all the way to the top in 2016.
How the tournament works
The Super League is a top-level professional rugby league tournament held in Europe every year. The league has 12 teams, and this year's teams are made up of 11 teams from England and one from France. The current 2015 champions are Leeds Rhinos.
Beginning in 1996, the Super League replaced the old Rugby Football League Championship and switched the tournament to run in the summer season. Each team will play 23 games between February and July 2016 - 11 home games and 11 away games plus the inclusion of a "magic weekend" at a neutral venue.
At the end of the regular season, the eight teams which finish in the highest position will carry over the points and scoring records from the regular season into the Super 8s and will play each other once with the top four clubs entering a play-off series. The winners of those two matches will contest the Super League Grand Final..
Below we take a look at the teams and Centurions predictions for the season ahead.
Leeds Rhinos (Predicted 4th)
The recruitment of new team players Beau Falloon, Keith Galloway and Brett Ferres is encouraging, but the Rhinos are still getting over the loss of iconic players, Sinfield, Peacock and Leuluai which might be enough to affect their chances of winning the title again.
St Helens (Prediction: 2nd)
Finishing fourth last year, St Helens have worked hard to strengthen the team in preparation for 2016. With a formidable forward pack including key players such as Alex Walmsley, Kyle Amor, Andre Savelio, Greg Richards, Luke Thompson and new signing Lama Tasi, its predicted that the Saints could be hot contenders for the winning title this year.
Wigan Warriors (Prediction: 1st)
For the second year in a row, Wigan came up short in a Grand Final. However Sam Tomkins returns to the 2016 squad whilst George Williams could be the one to watch this year with his half-back pairing with Matty Smith.
Huddersfield Giants (Prediction: 6th)
With last year's season one of their most successful campaigns to date, new signings such as NRL players Ryan Hinchcliffe and Sam Rapira will need to make a impact. The loss of Brett Ferres could make it more challenging this season than usual.
Castleford Tigers (Prediction: 5th)
Thanks to the new recruitment of key players such as Ben Crooks, Ryan Hampshire and Joel Monaghan to accommodate the loss of Justin Carney, the Tigers are in a strong position to maintain their top half finish.
Warrington Wolves (Prediction 3rd)
With the introduction of Tom Lineham from Hull FC and Kurt Gidley who adds some well needed experience to the team, the Wolves' prospects are looking brighter for 2016, but will they have what it takes to compete against the likes of Wigan, St Helens and Leeds?
Hull FC (Prediction: 8th)
Hull recruited some of the best players prior to the 2016 season with big names such as Frank Pritchard, Sika Manu, Scott Taylor and Carlos Tuimavave joining the team. With a good mix of young and old flair amongst the squad, it may take time for some of Hull's new players to gel.
Catalans Dragons (Prediction: 7th)
Despite a number of key players departing from the team for overseas squads, the recruitment drive has been strong with internationals such as Dave Taylor, Glenn Stewart and Richie Myler joining the squad. But will the Dragons' away form be their downfall?
Widnes Vikings (Prediction: 9th)
Finishing 9th in last year's Super League, the Vikings just missed out on the Super 8s, but the new signing of NRL Grand Finalist Corey Thompson is a major asset to this year's squad. His pace and agility will certainly allow Brown, Mellor and Hanbury to be more liberal with their play.
Hull KR (Prediction 10th)
Following a season riddled with injury, the squad now seems settled following the bedding in of many players last season. But with lots of newcomers in the team, it is predicted that a lack of squad depth may hinder the squad this year.
Salford Red Devils (Prediction: 12th)
After surviving the new Qualifiers competition, Salford will enter the new season with a host of new faces from overseas, the fact they struggle to hold down a settled team will more than likely affect their playing technique this season which could lead to their downfall.
Wakefield Wildcats (Prediction: 11th)
Just managing to stay in the Super League in 2015, the Wildcats have a big new recruit, Australian international Anthony Tupou, who will certainly add some firepower up front. It is hoped that with the appointment of manager Brian Smith as head coach last season, their performance will continue to improve in 2016.